It is day three. Have you broken your new year’s resolution yet?
Each year, Jan. 1 brings a fresh start full of promise and possibilities. According to a story in Time Magazine, more than half of Americans say they are likely to make a new year’s resolution. Aside from fitness, the most commonly vowed resolutions are to quit smoking and manage personal debt.
However, despite heroic commitment to change, 25 percent of resolutions are broken by the end of the first week of January and the odds of success rapidly decrease by June.
So, why do so many people make resolutions year after year despite having failed numerous times before?
Experts believe it is a combination of the idea of starting with a clean slate, the innate desire of improving one’s self and the love of tradition. They also agree that the top resolutions are some of the most difficult habits to break and require more time, commitment, intention, planning and support.
Nancy Anthony, a registered nurse at Greater Regional Medical Center’s center for employee health and infection control, has worked with hundreds of patients in their personal efforts to quit smoking and said many people simply have no desire to quit.
“Knowing what we know now through T.V., papers and magazines, I am just amazed that people still smoke,” said Anthony. “I get that it’s an addiction. But addictions can be broken.”
Anthony said it is more important now than ever to take a personal approach to make our own health optimal and that it is this personal responsibility that will help cut down on healthcare costs.
One common thread Anthony describes as helping or hurting efforts to maintain resolutions is support from others.
“Family support is necessary,” said Anthony. “It could be a medical crisis but the spouse isn’t willing to quit. That makes it very difficult to break the habit.”
There may be people in your life who are not supportive, but most are.
“Tell all your friends and family, ‘starting January 5, I will no longer be smoking.’ When you tell people, you have more accountability,” said Anthony.
Anthony said it is not easy, and smokers making efforts to quit do fall off the wagon.
“Crawl back on and keep going,” said Anthony. “The more you keep doing the good habit, the more it will become second nature.”
Anthony said to switch it up.
“Smoking is often part of a smokers routine,” said Anthony. “Many wake up and have a cigarette first thing with their cup of coffee, associate it with driving. Instead, try a different activity like going for a walk, reading a book, whatever it is, the routine has got to change.”
Behaviorally, managing finances requires the same diligence and support.
According to Steve Crittenden, senior loan officer at First National Bank, many people just don’t know where to start when making a lifestyle change.
“First, it’s important to understand the difference between needs and wants,” said Crittenden. “We live in a time where everything can be financed, and it’s easy to find ourselves in a lot of debt.”
According to Crittenden, the first step toward taking control of your financial situation is to do a realistic assessment of how much money you take in and how much money you spend.
He suggests to start by listing your income from all sources. Then, list your fixed expenses, such as mortgage or rent payments, car payments and insurance. Lastly, list the expenses that vary, like groceries and entertainment.
Writing down all your expenses is a helpful way to track your spending patterns, identify necessary expenses and prioritize the rest.
The goal is to make sure you can make ends meet on the basics and identify enough extra money within the budget to pay into a savings or emergency fund.
“Saving for retirement is particularly important for young people,” said Crittenden. “If they do that soon, it will be a huge benefit down the road.”
“Most importantly, if people are living beyond their means and living in debt, a lifestyle change has to happen,” said Crittenden.
Crittenden and Anthony agree that it doesn’t matter what people are trying to achieve, but to recognize mistakes, learn from them, start again and to start now.
“You are worthy enough, you are powerful enough, you can do it,” said Anthony.
Every day is a fresh start to begin again.